Photo Management Without Lightroom

by on Nov 7, 2017 Tags: workflow photography

Adobe recently released the new Lightroom CC and threw my entire process so thoroughly into question that I’ve stopped using Lightroom to edit and manage my photos.

I’m not a fan of subscription models, but if the value is there then I’ll pay. Ten dollars a month for Lightroom and Photoshop is totally fair. That’s not what pushed me away from Lightroom. What pushed me away was Adobe’s inexorable march toward forcing me to keep my photos in their cloud service. I’m not interested in doing that.

Adobe has said that they will continue to update and support the original Lightroom Classic but I don’t think they called it “Classic” for nothing. I believe Classic is going to be killed once CC gains a reasonable amount of feature parity.

I don’t want my photos to live in anyone’s cloud service. I want to name, organize, and manage my photos as files in folders on my hard drive. I don’t want the software to do it. I’m old and a dutifully organized filesystem is a wonderful thing. Lightroom Classic did a decent job of letting me organize based on the filesystem, but Lightroom Classic feels like a dead end. Plus, the fewer subscriptions the better.

So, I’m now using a combination of Photo Mechanic and Capture One Pro.

I import, cull, keyword, caption, rename, and organize using Photo Mechanic. Then, I convert (if RAW), edit, and export finished JPEGs using Capture One.

Capture One is expensive but I’ve owned a license for years. Just upgraded to version 10 for $99. I bought a Photo Mechanic license several years ago and it’s still working just fine as-is. I’ve been using both of them on and off for a long time, so this isn’t all new to me.

I’m still tweaking, but right now it goes like this:

  1. Ingest from card, drive, or iPhone using Photo Mechanic
  2. Cull, label, keyword, caption, rename, and file in Photo Mechanic
  3. Open the keepers and process/edit them in Capture One
  4. Export finished JPEGs both back to the original folder and to Apple Photos using Capture One. This happens in one step using Process Recipes.
  5. Share and upload using Photo Mechanic

There’s nothing better or faster at ingesting and managing digital photos than Photo Mechanic, and Capture One is deep and capable and does the best job on Fuji RAW files. I’m using the best tools for the job, even if it’s a bit more hassle.

Best of all, I end up with my beloved folders and files for the originals and edits, and I also get the on-every-device benefit of Apple Photos for the keepers.